The problem may have more to do with your general health than with your food. Here are some simple solutions that could help you beat the bulge
Do you seem to keep piling on the pounds no matter how many diets you try?
If so, the problem may have more to do with your general health than with your food.
Here are some simple solutions that could help you beat the bulge.
YOU NEED MORE SLEEP
“This will affect metabolism and eventually lead to weight gain. And bear in mind that if you aren’t sleeping then your body won’t be digesting food normally either.”
In addition, people with insomnia will often start snacking through the night or drinking tea and coffee, which only makes the problem worse.
Fix it: Get into a routine by going to bed at regular times and waking up at the same time too, even at the weekends.
Steer clear of caffeine after 4pm and try to avoid iPhones or watching TV in your bedroom. Instead, wind down by reading before you go to sleep.
YOU’RE ON STEROIDS
Steroids can cause people to bloat up and can give them a bigger appetite. In extreme cases, corticosteroids can even lead to Cushing’s Syndrome, when the body produces too much of the hormone cortisol, see right.
“Cushing’s sufferers find that their body distorts as they put on weight around the middle,” says Mr Christopher Wong, a surgeon at Spires Bristol Hospital.
“They are often described as looking like lemons on sticks, as their bodies start to look disproportionate to their legs.
“To treat this, the steroids are withdrawn carefully with medical supervision.”
In rare cases Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by a tumour found inside one of the glands in the body.
Fix it: See your GP for advice on alternative medication if the steroids you take affect your weight.
Never cut out medication without consulting your doctor in advance.
“The problem here is twofold,” says Mr Wong.
“We have quite an emotional relationship with food in Britain so when we feel depressed, we tend to eat.
“But antidepressants can also stimulate the appetite as, when people feel happier, thanks to the medication, they will also overeat.”
Around 25% of people who have been on antidepressants long term cite weight gain as one of the side effects.
Fix it: “It’s important not to use an increase in appetite as an excuse to eat the wrong foods,” adds Mr Wong.
Instead, make sure you always have healthy snacks, such as fruit, nuts and seeds, on hand to stave off those pangs of hunger.
If you still feel as though your medication is to blame for your weight gain, then see your GP who might be able to prescribe alternatives.
When adrenaline, the stress hormone, kicks in, the body produces more cortisol, which in turn causes hunger.
“And when you’re stressed it’s tempting to turn to unhealthy ready meals, high-calorie snacks or alcohol,” Dr Dhunna says.
“Stress can also make you feel lethargic, meaning you won’t want to exercise. All of these factors will take their toll on the waistline.”
Fix it: Even in times of stress, eat regular, healthy meals. “People who are stressed at work tend to laze around in bed at weekends, but that only makes it worse,” says Dr Dhunna.
“Unless you eat within half an hour of waking up, then the body will go into fasting mode and store up the last meal in case you don’t eat.”
YOUR THYROID IS TO BLAME
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, slows down the metabolism, so many people find they put on weight while it goes undiagnosed.
The good news is that with treatment the hormones will balance out and weight will soon return to normal.
Fix it: Symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness, constipation, aches, dry skin, lifeless hair and feeling cold. If you experience any of these, then see your GP for a blood test.
YOU’RE EATING TOO LATE AT NIGHT
“Studies have shown that people who consume the same calories as others but mostly eat them an hour or two before going to bed will put on more weight than people who eat earlier,” says Mr Wong.
This is because the body is aware that you are not being active, so it stores the calories by turning them into fat.
And in turn it then takes the body longer to convert this stored fat into energy again.
Fix it: Eat your main meal at lunchtime and then have a smaller, lighter meal in the evening, at least three hours before going to bed.
YOU HAVE POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
“Many of the overweight women I see in my clinic suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, or POS,” says Dr Geetha Venkat, director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic.
“They have a resistance to insulin, just like people with diabetes, which in the case of POS makes it difficult for them to convert the male hormone testosterone in the ovaries into the female hormone oestrogen.
“Higher levels of testosterone in the body will make sufferers put on weight and the insulin resistance does the same thing because the body can’t utilise the calories it is taking in.”
Fix it: “We treat people with POS with metformin, the same medication given to type 2 diabetics,” says Dr Venkat.
“It reduces the insulin resistance, which rectifies the hormone balance. We also encourage people who have POS to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly.”
Other symptoms of POS include excessive body hair, irregular periods, infertility, hair loss and acne. If you have any of these, see your GP.
YOU’VE CUT OUT CARBS
We all know you need a balanced diet to be healthy but for many of us, cutting out carbs is a sure-fire way to shift some pounds quickly.
“But when you eliminate something from your diet, the body starts to crave it,” says Mr Wong. “Carbs are important building blocks for the body to turn into energy.”
Fix it: Eat healthy carbs, such as wholemeal pasta and rice, and steer clear of diets that ban them.
By Natasha Holt/UK Mirror